Author: Merula
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing.

Afterwards + Part 6

I awoke. It was an unpleasant feeling. I had been hoping that I would never have to do it again. I blinked. Big blue eyes were peering down into mine. Crap.

"Heero? Are you awake?"

"Relena." I blinked and she came more into focus. "Where am I?"

"The hospital."

"How did I get here?" I should've been long cold before help got to me. Damn Dr. J's nanites.

"Sgt. Kelly called the medics."

"Sgt. Kelly?"

"The Wizard?" What the hell? Why did he call? "He put pressure on your wounds and waited until the Preventers and the medics got there."

"Where is he?"

"The Preventers have him in custody. Wufei and Duo are questioning him." I blinked again and sat up. My body protested a bit, but not much. Relena was sitting next to the bed looking pristine and perfect in her white suit. Hilde was leaning next to the door and Zechs was by the window.

"How's Trowa?"

"Awake. The doctors told Quatre that he'd make a complete recovery."

"That's good." I gave her a small smile. "Is everyone else okay?" I began to tug the bandages off my torso.

"Just fine. Even you apparently." Relena's eyes widened slightly at the healed-looking wounds underneath. "Heero- how? I mean, it's only been 12 hours..." 12 hours? The damn things kept getting more and more efficient. Damn it.

"Dr. J," I told her honestly. "He made some- modifications on me." Relena reached out a hand and gently touched one of the scars.

"Are you- human?" She asked softly.

"Too human, sometimes." I smiled a bit wider for her. "May I thank you for not hovering this time?" She smiled back.

"You may." She looked down at her lap for a moment, then back up at me. "Heero- I want to talk to you about something..." Oh no, I mentally groaned. The doctor chose that moment to wander in. He took one look at me and declared me able to leave the hospital, though he was amazed at my recovery.

Relena, Hilde and Zechs went out into the hallway to give me some privacy to get dressed. Some kind soul had gotten me fresh clothes. My house keys were sitting on top of my shoes- Duo must've left them- or sent them with Hilde. A nurse came in with the release papers. I signed them and then checked the hall. Relena was surrounded by a crowd of admiring nurses and doctors. I caught Hilde's eye and raised an eyebrow at her. She smiled back understandingly. I slipped back into my room and went down the fire escape.

My jeep was where I had left it.

Val was waiting for me when I got home, nearly frantic. I apologized to her, let her out and then fed her before checking my messages.

The first one was from Jack complaining that he hadn't received my log for yesterday. Of course.

The second was from my boss. Apparently she had seen the news and figured out that pilot 01 and Frey Lowe were the same person. Shit.

The third message was Quatre, asking me to call him as soon as I could.

The fourth was Lady Une, requesting a report of what had happened in the alleyway between Kelly and me.

I leaned back in my chair and stared at the machine. Damn it. Why couldn't I have just died like I was supposed to? Kelly would've had his revenge and I wouldn't have to sit here wondering what the hell to do next. I couldn't resume my peaceful life. That had shattered to pieces around me. Val rested her head on my knee and I stroked her ears absently.

Duty first. I quickly typed an apology to Ange and submitted my resignation. As it downloaded, along with all the work I had done so far for them, I typed a quick report for Une. That got sent quickly to Preventers HQ. I didn't want to call Quatre. Val nuzzled her nose against my knees and I sighed. My phone rang, making me jump and I wondered who it was this time. I didn't feel like talking to anyone.

The machine picked up and Duo's voice echoed through the room.

"Heero? Where the hell are you? Hilde said you left the hospital hours ago! You better not've run off on me again! Call me when you get this." He rattled off his phone number and hung up. Did I want to talk to Duo?

The phone rang again, a minute later. Again I simply sat and waited until the machine picked up.

"Une said you just faxed her something from your home number. I know you're there! Pick up the goddamn phone Heero!" I heard him take a deep breath. "God damn you Yuy! You promised me that you wouldn't do this again! If you don't answer the fucking phone right now so help me I will..." I hit the audio button, leaving the screen dark.

"I'm here."

"I'm on my way over."

"What? Why?"

"I need to talk to you."

"Now Duo?" Panic rose in me. I really didn't want to talk to Duo, I decided. "I'm kind of tired."

"Yes now. And don't think about leaving- I'm only a few minutes away. I got to the hospital not too long after you left. Hilde told me you beat a strategic retreat." He laughed a bit. "She said it wasn't very gallant of you to leave her stranded there with all those Relena fans."

"Relena was battling them off pretty well, I thought," I countered, wondering how many minutes I had. I used to be able to leave a safe house in under 5.

"I'm almost there," Duo stated flatly. "Come and open the door for me." Damn, he still knows me too well.

Duo met me at the door, eyes moving over me quickly checking status. "You recovered fast."

"Yeah." He moved past me, into the house and perched on my futon.

"What exactly did J do to you?"

"Nanites." His eyes widened slightly.

"They're banned for use on humans."

"With good reason. But when did that kind of thing ever stop J?"

"But- when you blew up Wing- you were out for a month..." I sat down on the floor in front of the futon, several feet away from Duo.

"The nanites hadn't gotten up to top efficiency levels at that time. They were still adjusting to my body." I looked up at him. "Is that why you wanted to talk to me?"

"No." Duo's expression changed to one I couldn't read. "Relena told you that Wufei and I interrogated Kelly?"

"Yes."

"He said that you told him that he could kill you."

"Yes." Duo glared at me.

"Why Heero? Why did you just stand there? You could've taken that guy out! I know it! Hell, he knew it!"

"He was trying to avenge his friend's death."

"That's not a reason!" Duo jumped to his feet and started pacing.

"Duo, I killed his friend. If you or Quatre or Trowa or Wufei had been killed I would've done the same thing he did. I would've hunted down the person that I deemed responsible and killed them as well." Duo stopped his pacing and stared at me for a moment. "Wouldn't you want to? If someone killed Hilde or Fei or Quatre or Trowa- wouldn't you want to kill them? Wouldn't you want revenge?"

"Stop." Duo snapped at me. He went back to the sofa and sat down wearily.

"I'm sorry, Duo. But..."

"I said stop, Heero." He looked up at me. "If you must talk- then tell me why you thanked him. Kelly was shaking when he told us that. Wufei and I were too, but I think that's a whole other can of worms. You really freaked him out, Heero. Kelly couldn't believe it. 'He was covered in blood- and he thanked me! He thanked me for killing him.' That's all he could say over and over at the end there."

"I didn't want him to regret his actions." He snorted.

"Well, you had the opposite effect. According to Kelly he's going to have nightmares for the rest of his life about that. You are a selfish bastard, Heero Yuy."

"Am I?" I was startled for a moment. "I suppose I am." My agreeing with him didn't make Duo any happier.

"I heard you talking with Quatre the other night." He smiled grimly as I looked up at him in complete shock. "Did you tell Kelly to shoot you so that his ghosts could be laid to rest or because you wanted to die?"

"Both." I answered truthfully after a moment. "It seemed the ideal situation." Duo was on his feet again.

"Ideal situation? An interesting way to talk about your death." He was snarling at me.

"Kelly was in love with that Aries pilot," I told him. There was no use hedging, not now. "I could- understand how he felt. I didn't go in that alley with the intention of dying- but when he told me why he was hunting us- I couldn't take him out. It seemed wrong." Duo sat down in front of me on the floor. Before he could speak, my phone rang. We sat there staring at each other, neither one of us moving. The answering machine picked up.

"Frey- uh Heero, I guess. It's Ange. I got your resignation. It's not necessary. I don't care what- or who you used to be. You're a damn fine programmer and that's all I care about. I'm sorry if my last message was abrupt- I wasn't really sure what to think. But you don't need to quit. I still want you as a member of our team. Please call me back- you have the number."

"You resigned from your job?" Duo glanced around my house. "Were you getting ready to run again?"

"She was pretty upset- I thought resigning was for the best." I didn't answer the second question as I wasn't sure of the answer myself.

"I ought to beat the crap out of you." Duo shook his head. "Upset does not translate into hating your guts. You still have a lot to learn about human nature."

"I know I do." Duo reached out and put a hand under my chin.

"Do you love me Heero?"

"Yes." It seemed stupid to deny what he already knew.

"Then I want you to do something for me."

"All right." He smiled slightly.

"Agreeing without even knowing what it is?"

"Yes."

"You won't run. You'll stay here, go back to your job and design awesome games."

"All right."

"You'll call Quatre once a week."

"Okay."

"You won't try and self destruct anymore." That one was a bit harder. It had always been my escape door. He noticed my hesitation and frowned. "And you won't let anyone else kill you either." His frown deepened as he waited for my answer and I sighed.

"All right." I agreed. "Anything else?"

"Yes," his smile was back in place. "You let me move in with you."

"What?" I blinked at him in shock.

"Like I trust you to actually do any of this stuff without me watching you." He could not be serious.

"What about Hilde?"

"What about her?" Was he insane?

"Duo- she's pregnant!"

"You noticed?"

"Of course I noticed!"

"What does that have to do with me moving in with you?" I could only look at him, amazed at his apparent callousness. "I don't see a connection..."

"You don't see a connection?!" I snapped at him. "She's pregnant Duo! Hello? Baby on the way?" Duo blinked at me.

"You don't think it's mine do you?" Huh?

"Well, who else's would it be?" I snapped at him. Duo gave me an evil smirk.

"Zechs's." Okay, that was not what I had expected. I think my jaw hit the floor.

"WHAT? But he- and Noin..."

"They're married." Duo was still smirking, amused by my confusion.

"But Hilde is..." I put my head in my hands. "Duo, please explain this to me."

"Hilde and Relena wanted a baby, but obviously they can't have one. The closest thing to Relena's genes would be Zechs's of course, so he donated some sperm and Hilde is pregnant." He grinned wider. "I get to be a godfather. Isn't that exciting?"

"I'm a bit- confused." I admitted. "Aren't you and Hilde together?"

"Me and Hilde?" Duo shook his head at me. "Nope. Oh- we tried after the first war, but after the first time we kissed we knew it wasn't right. She is to me what Cathy is to Trowa- a sister. That's it. When we joined the Preventers she was assigned to Relena and the rest is history." What? How had I so completely misread that situation? And why hadn't Quatre said anything that night? I was tempted to strangle him.

"Oh good gods," I muttered.

"You shouldn't have left all that time ago- then you'd be up to speed." Duo told me self-righteously. I groaned.

"I'm not sure I want to be." Hilde and Relena? What the hell else had I missed?

"So- can I move in?"

"What about the Preventers?"

"I can still work for them- consulting or something." Duo shrugged. "Or I'll find another job. No big problem." I looked up at him, meeting his cheerful gaze.

"Why are you doing this Duo?"

"Because," his expression turned serious, "you need me. I'm your best friend and I don't want you to be alone anymore. I want to help you. I volunteered before- remember?"

"Are you sure you can live with me?"

"We've done it before- and I know I can trust you." His voice dropped. "Trust me Heero. Let me help you."

"Do what? Get over you?" It came out more harshly than I intended. "Duo, I know you don't..." I tried to put my confusion into words.

He reached out and pulled us together until our foreheads were touching. "I know you love me. I know I care for you. I know that I miss you when you aren't with me. I know that I want to be around you. I know that I want you in my life."

"Duo, you don't have to..." He cut me off.

"I'm not doing this out of duty. I'm doing this because listening to you talk to Quatre the other night hurt like hell. I'm hurting you, something I never wanted to do, and maybe I don't have to be. I haven't found anyone to share my life with that way, Heero. Everyone I meet, I compare them to you. Maybe I am in love with you. Maybe I'm not. But I want the chance to find out." His hand tightened. "So, can I move in?"

"Okay," I answered him softly. "You can move in."

"Good." He leaned back, a genuine smile on his face.

[part 5] [part 7] [back to Merula's fic]